Sunday, August 29, 2010

Talks, new callings, and sickness

With a move, it is inevitable that you will get asked to speak in Church. Fortunately, the week we were asked to speak, we had stake conference in between so there was plenty of time to prepare. Or fret. I have never been fond of public speaking. Today was our big day. I have to say I absolutely love our new ward. I feel so comfortable there. I don't really have any friends yet, but there are a lot of really friendly people. Dan was called to be the scout master about a month ago. And is getting the hang of things with that. I was called a couple of weeks ago but sustained today to be the second counselor in the Primary Presidency. I have been in Relief Society for so long, I am a little nervous but very excited. I love working in the Primary. And I love that I will be able to learn new ways to help my kids grow in the gospel. I love how excited they were to see me in there today. I love the Primary President, she is the neatest person, and I am looking forward to being back into the swing of things. Being without a calling for so long leaves a big void in your life. I never thought I would be so grateful to be busy. It is a good feeling. This all comes though, at an interesting time in my life. We are getting settled still, and it has been a bit overwhelming. We are still faced with some big challenges. Then about a month ago or so, maybe not quite that long. I started to get really sick. I had really bad headaches and couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong. I couldn't figure out why things tasted so bad and even worse, that things smelled so bad. So to be funny, Daniel brought home a pregnancy test. I scoffed. There was no way that I could be pregnant. None. So I said I will show you, and took the test. And it was of course positive even before I set it on the counter. Apparently, someone thinks that we need a substitute for our basketball team. It is even funnier that people are not surprised when I tell them. Why does everyone automatically assume that when I say "I have something to tell you" they say "you're pregnant!" I think I was the only one shocked by the news. So, according to my best calculations, I am due the end of March. Which really is the perfect time. Having spring babies is the best. I will be big pregnant during the cold months, but the baby (girl) will be here when it starts to get a little warmer. I was bummed though that we are finally going to experience snow, and I won't be able to go sledding with the kids. There is always next year. I mentioned I think it is a girl, just keeping with our boy/girl pattern. But I am pretty positive it is a girl. We should know for sure sometime in November. I have been really sick. I am about 9 1/2 almost 10 weeks. I go to my first Dr apt tomorrow, to find out a more for sure due date. Blessing come in such mysterious ways. We are so excited to have a new baby but I wasn't really prepared yet for this one. The beginning is so hard for me, maybe that is why it was a surprise, I wasn't ready to be so sick. I have really great days followed by very difficult ones. But I cannot complain. My kids are doing so well, it works out for me to rest on the hard days. I become more grateful for the good days when I can get things done. And Dan helps a ton. He is so good to me. I should be back into the swing of things in a couple of weeks. The kids start school next Tuesday and are so excited for that. I loved our summertime together and I am sad to see it end, but I am really excited for schedules and routines. All in all, I am really grateful today. I looked at my kids when I was on the stand today, and I felt so blessed. It helped me to stop feeling overwhelmed at the things that we have been going through and just made me feel a renewed sense of purpose. I am also really grateful that even though I was very sick this morning, that I made it through my talk. I was a little worried about passing out or getting sick all over the pulpit. I guess if I had, that might be the last time I would be asked to speak in church for a really long time. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Small acts of Kindness

Today I needed to run a few errands. The kids were going in slow motion and we missed our window of opportunity to leave before Blake had to take a nap. He fell asleep at 10am which was about 2 1/2 hours before normal nap time. Then I went to check on the girls who were playing downstairs I found a sleeping Alyssa. She never takes a nap! Anyway, with my kids it is errand suicide if you go after a certain time. 3:30-4:00 hour is that time for us. I just have learned that if we want to have a decent shopping experience, go in the morning hours, it is just a more pleasant experience. Well, because we needed things for dinner, and I was determined to make it out of the house today, we left at 3:30. After a couple of fast errands, we went to the grocery store. Because I have 5 kids, and they are 8 and under, I get a lot of looks from people. At least I think that is why they look at me. Although when I got home today and saw my hair, (it was pretty humid today) that could have been the reason for the looks. Anyway, we were in the bread isle when a mom with a new baby stopped me. She looked at me, saw Zach melting down because he couldn't get Alyssa to let go of the frosting with sprinkles he wanted to hold, she says, "wow. You are amazing! This is my 3rd baby and I am terrified to take all three of my kids out together!" I said thank you, and held my head a little higher, and gave her my advice if you go anywhere, to go after breakfast, but before lunch or it won't go well. (kidding-well, sort of) we talked for a bit more, and she again said "wow, I just really admire you." and went on her way. Then right after that another lady pointed her finger at us and started counting. And she said, "wow. You are amazing. They are beautiful. Can we help you in any way??" The lady behind her also said some words of kindness, and smiled. After a couple more meltdowns, trying to hold Blake and push the cart, we finally made it to the check out. (Before we even got into the store, I was mentally prepared for melting down kids, mainly because of the hour. They were hungry and tired and we needed to be home. So I wasn't impatient with them, but at the same time we were supermarket sweeping as fast as we could.) When I got to the check out, I had two kids in the cart, and the other three amazingly enough were very close. I was putting the heavy things on the belt and I look over and all I see are hands reaching up all over the candy and gum. No faces just hands. They were clawing for treats. It was like the infery in Harry Potter grabbing for stuff. Can we have this? Can we have that? I had already gotten them a little treat earlier, so I resisted. Just as I was about to cave in, it was our turn. As I moved the cart through the isle Blake made his protest known that he wasn't getting any candy to the people in the next store over. He was so mad. After the cashier rang up my order in record time, I have really never seen anyone check and bag so fast, she reached over her register and patted me on the shoulder. "Hang in there she said. You are doing a great job." Can I just tell you the difference it made in my day and in my entire countenance to have perfect strangers try to lift my spirits? It made all the difference in the world. I got home got the dishes done, dinner started, house cleaned, I just felt so renewed by just a few words of kindness and a few kind smiles. So the next time you feel like complimenting someone, but think "what will they care-it is such a small thing to say something nice" Trust me, small acts of kindness will make a huge difference in someones life. And see, people in the east really aren't all that bad. :) And I am so happy to have a new favorite grocery store, just two minutes away from my house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not all doom and gloom

Sides of the road... use in case of an "emergency"

is there really a place called truth or consequences?

Ok, so I feel like I my previous posts have been more on the serious/gloomy side of things. Not all was/is sad/hard for us. For example, today it is raining and last night we had a good thunderstorm. LOVE IT! But that's not what I want to blog about today. The trip, for me at least, went by really fast. Before we left I was a little concerned about how the kids would do in the car. Sometimes driving home from school, which was about a 10 minute drive, seemed like hours. I am happy to report, despite Blake being really sick, it was actually really fun! We had a great time. By the time we got to Philadelphia, we were exhausted but the kids did really well. The part that took the longest was bathroom trips. Why is it that they always have to go after we passed the rest stops? Ok, so for the first time ever, we had to teach the girls how to go to the bathroom on the side of the road. Katelyn bawled. She DID NOT want to do this. (I did think ahead and had the girls wear skirts just in case...) So somewhere in New Mexico we had to stop. Zach jumps out and waters the farm over the hill, (TMI I know, but it was really funny because Ethan said "wow Zach, nice distance"-BOYS!) So as we are trying to get Katelyn to just take care of business so we can get going, I look over at Alyssa and she had just gotten right to business. She didn't care a bit. That was funny. Restrooms were always a little scary for me, mainly I was concerned about the kids. But no matter how stinky or smelly bathrooms were, the girls always would say, "we liked the soap, it had our favorite soap" (the foamy kind) Or it was especially fun if the soap was pink. No matter where we would go they would always talk about the soap. Girls.
The worst though was when there was no where to pull off. The kids weren't very helpful either not giving us any notice that they might have to go to the bathroom soon. Zach was screaming in agony because he had to go so bad, and we were in traffic, with no shoulder to pull off. So I thew him a pull up. Go in this Zach. Next time I need to be more specific in my directions because instead of unbuckling and putting pull up on, (we were in stand still traffic) he placed the pull up strategically over his clothes and well, so gross. The pull up didn't even get wet. Ohhhh so many stories to tell. We had a great time, after months without being together as a family it was nice to take this trip together and just have time even if it was in the car. We got to see a lot of fun things. And yes, tv was a big help. I have always loved road trips though. Very good times.
Motels were a little bit of a different story. The coolest part was that even thought the beds were really hard, Zach successfully learned to do flips on them. Cannot believe I don't have video of that!!!

Punxsutawney and Pittsburgh 2006

Crazy freeways and bridges and people merging from out of nowhere. I refused to drive here.
At the Pittsburgh Airport -some kind of new security screening system :)

We ate here, POSITIVE this was the diner that Bill Murray stuffed a whole piece of Angel food cake into his mouth(What). In our defense, it was similar and we figured the movie was 20 years old, changes must have been made...


We didn't get any pictures of this, but we stopped at a walmart on our way to Punxy and there were Amish inside buying stuff, and smoking outside the store. It was very much Amish there. The farms and homes that they have are amazing. So pristine! On our way into Philadelphia we also drove through Amish country, and they had quilt displays and a fabric store in a beautiful old home. They also had wooden pieces of furniture and swingsets that they had built. Amazing stuff.

These groundhog statues are everywhere

Sometimes hard to get a really good picture at 80 miles an hour.

Penn State area


Why Pennsylvania

Good question. To be honest, we are not really sure. It kind of started about four years ago. We lived next door to a crazy lady (no really, she was crazy) but I got to know her pretty well. She scared me a little at first because she did really strange and unusual things. (She showed up at her next door neighbor's house without clothes-that kind of crazy) Anyway, she had cancer and was really very sick and she lived alone. I would help her with odd jobs at her home, and helped her pack when she moved out. One day before she moved, she came over to talk to me about something, a footstool I think. Anyway, we somehow got on the subject of where she is from. She said she was from a town called Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. She described the town, and the home she owned and said that it was for rent. I had never heard of Bethlehem, PA so when she left two hours later I googled it. It was a cute little town and Dan and I began talking about how fun it would be to move away for a while for a little adventure. I grew up air force so after being in one place for more than 3 years I would always get the itch to move. Well, we kind of stopped talking about it, but it never left our minds. We were always thinking about it. So in Sept of 2006 Dan and I decided to take a trip to Pittsburgh, it didn't seem as far away as Bethlehem, plus Bethlehem is a small college town, and there really weren't very many jobs or anything. So grandma and grandpa Lawlor watched our kids (0f course two days before we left Zach was diagnosed with pneumonia) and we flew to Pittsburgh for a few days. We had a fun trip, and now that we have a GPS we think our trip would have been a lot more fun for us if we had one back then. We saw some beautiful country, some scary parts of the city, it was just different for us. Dan grew up in AZ and served his mission in Idaho. So this was something new and exciting. One of the funnest things that we did was go to Punxsutawney. (Groundhog Day!) The festival there is HUGE and people come from all over the world. It was very quiet when we were there though. (We are nerds, what can I say. We went all over that town so we could find the diner and the hotel ect... from the movie. We found out when we got home it was actually filmed somewhere outside of Chicago-the area where they have the festival in Punxy was too small for filming. We laughed so hard!) Still a cool place to see. Anyway, we left there not really feeling good about Pittsburgh, but still wanting our adventure. About a year ago maybe longer, my brother Corey talked to Dan about a job in Philadelphia, but nothing really came from it then. When Dan took his job with the charter school, neither one of us felt very good about it. In fact it took us a long time to tell anyone. We were desparate for a better paying job/career-we had been searching for so long. When you get that feeling that you shouldn't do something, no matter how right and perfect it seems, you should listen to it! Let's just say if certain people had been a little nicer, that experience would have gone very differently. Which was also the weirdest part. Dan did really well at that job, despite hardly any training. The kids loved him, and the parents seemed ok with him too. In fact, it was kind of the oddest thing that it didn't work out. All the pieces were there. Dan "quit" at the end of October, (someday I will blog about our miraculous two Decembers-in a row, but those things are almost too sacred to Blog about right now. I really can't talk about those events without a lot of tears. I will say again, prayers are answered and miracles happen.) back to the story... right after Dan "quit"-with no job prospects-very scary, Corey said that he got a call wondering if Dan was still interested in the job. There were some concerns that we voiced knowing that there was another person interested in the job, but were reassured that the other person interested was actually pursuing another company. We were so excited that Linda (the owner of the company) thought of Dan at this particular time, that Dan had just quit his job, if he hadn't and things had gone well, we wouldn't be here. And our house had just "sold". So we jumped. It took until the end of January to get offical word, and our dream was starting to come together. There were still a lot of things stacked against us, but at the same time it started to flow. But we also know there is opposition in all things, and we all have to go through trials. We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we also knew this was were we needed to be. So here we are. Bethlahem is about an hour or so north of us.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Miracles and Gratitude

So I have been trying to find a good way to post some of the events that have happened to us. Ideally, it would be nice to write them in order, but today I am reflecting on some of the miracles that happened to us. I think I have said this a few times, but as hard as things were I cannot deny the miracles, and I don't know if I would have paid as much attention to the tender mercies if we hadn't been going through such a difficult process. But there are two signifigant instances that are on my mind today where I really felt like I was being watched over. The first came after the first full week we were here. We had been staying near the airport so the commute for Dan wouldn't be too difficult. But that also meant that we were staying in south west Philadelphia. (I had to laugh because the Fresh Prince of Bel Air song came into my mind so many times, "In west Philadelphia I was born and raised...) anyway... for the weekend we decided to go stay in an area where we were looking to live. We checked out of our hotel at around 11, I drove Dan into Center City, which is not my favorite place to drive, and then the kids and I went out to the area we were going to stay at. To preface this, before we left Tucson we had contacted some wards to let them know we were looking for a place to live, just to spread the word. One of the ward Relief Society presidents called me a couple of days before we left to see what she could do. Come to find out she and one of her counselors made it their personal mission to help us find a home. As I drove to our new hotel, I decided before we checked in to take the kids to the park. And to look at different neighborhoods. (During the time we were searching, I filled our car with gas at least 3 times a week-my poor kids.) Anyway, as we were driving I was feeling pretty distressed and discouraged. We had come so far, and we were so tired and just felt pretty helpless, but at the same time, there was a great deal of peace. I guess impatience is more the word I need to use about how I felt. Anyway, as we were driving, the relief society president called out of the blue to talk to me to see how we were doing. It was so nice to know that in this great big city, that someone knew we were there, and they cared about what was happening to us. It was just a nice feeling. Shortly after we arrived at the park, her counslor called. Her name is Charity. (No really, it is, and it fits her.) Charity offered to have us come and stay at her home. Charity has 5 boys and 1 girl. And she called me, a complete stranger and offered a home to my family of 7. I cancelled our hotel reservations, a little hesitant I have to admit, mainly because I really did not want to burden her family. But my kids needed room to run and friends to play with. What a blessing for my family. We stayed with them for a few days and then not wanting to overstay our welcome, we went to yet another hotel. This hotel was a "higher end" that we got a good deal on. However, we happened to arrive on a high school graduation night, and all they had available was a smoking room. After we arrived, the air stopped working, the sink had gotten clogged and flooded the bathroom and they only had a room with a king bed. So they moved us to another room, that didn't have hot water. Anyway, by the time we got settled it was well after midnight. The next day was Sunday, and the ward we wanted to go to was at 9am. Well, we found another ward that started at 1pm. The only ward around us that started that late was about 30 minutes away from where we were staying. Not really realizing how long it would take us, and not really knowing our way around just trusting a GPS that wasn't current on construction, (neither were we) we ended up being late. The temptation to not go was really strong. Our family is a big parade when we walk into church late, and it is one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. But we wanted to be there for solace more than anything, and decided to go. We were sitting in Sunday school and a girl tapped me on the sholder and asked if we were new. I kind of laughed and said, sort of. And told her we had just moved from Arizona. (Wait for this, you won't believe it.) She said, "So did we." come to find out, they were in my sister's ward, and knew all of the same people that we knew. If you have ever doubted that Heavenly Father is not aware of you, let me tell you that I know that he is. I have always believed that, but now I have proof. Mainly because of what happened the next day. We needed to check out of our hotel because they were going to raise our rate to a rediculous amout. So we packed up everything in the pouring rain and Dan went to work. Did I mention it was raining? Normally I love the rain, but this just was a lot to handle. No home, pouring rain, all the kids and our stuff smushed into our car. And I was alone to find somewhere to go as Dan had obligations at work. For an instant, I let a discouraging thought go through my mind. Then as quickly as it came, I made it leave. I started the car and headed for my new friend Autumn's house. I called her and said, "can we come play" hoping my tears of gratitude wouldn't show in my voice. My burden of not having a home wasn't taken away, but the burden of not having anywhere to go was lifted. And then came more peace. My kids had a place to play, new friends, it was a tremendous blessing. And I thank Heavenly Father every day for watching over me, blessing us, and helping me to realize how very aware He is of me. Even though it wasn't the right time for my burdens to be taken away, he lifted them, and eased them. Through the selfless acts of others. If a home had been immediately provided for our family it would have been a miracle, but at the same time, what would I have learned? We life in a world where everything is instant. It is so easy to be impatient. Learning patience, and becoming patient is seemingly very difficult. At the same time, when you are patient you can see things in ways that you wouldn't think of. Being patient makes things a lot more clear. There were days when I felt I couldn't go another step, the burden was just too hard. And even now, I sometimes feel that-who doesn't?? But I have these amazing miracles to remember and the 5 little (growing faster every day) miracles that surround me everyday and suddenly I become more patient during dicouraging times. If everything came instantly, there would be no reason for patience. I also think with increased patience comes a lot more gratitude. When you are patient you don't focus on things that you cannot change. You focus more on the things that are good and important in life. I am so grateful for miracles in my life. And today, it is so important for me to show my gratitude for those who walk beside me to lift my burdens. To me, you are are what make my life miraculous. So thank you. Ialso have to give a huge shout out to Dan, the most patient person I know. To watch him through all of this, I have to say I have NEVER seen a more patient person. Thank you Dan for your example. You are amazing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pictures in no particular order

city and another view of Dan's office

Watching tv while we were using wifi at Mcdonnalds. Looking for a motel on the internet was always a huge challenge for us.

The building with the spire is Dan's office. He is on the 51st floor.